Former president Laura Chinchilla says she is not a thief or a millionaire

The defamation trial in the case brought by former president Laura Chinchilla against a businessman's Facebook post began yesterday. (Photo courtesy of CRHoy.com)

The defamation trial in the case brought by former president Laura Chinchilla against a businessman’s Facebook post began yesterday. (Photo courtesy of CRHoy.com)

July 15th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla said in court yesterday that she is “not a thief” and has “stolen nothing from Costa Rica,” as the defamation trial of hotelier and businessman, Alberto Rodrigiuez Baldi began its first day.

 

The former president pressed charges of defamation against Baldi in June of last year over a Facebook post he published, which claimed that Chinchilla purchased land worth millions of dollars in Guanacaste and had an interest in a wind-energy firm by embezzling public funds.

 

“You can’t call me a thief because I’ve never stolen even five colones.  My only assets are the house where I live with my husband and son, a 1999 automobile, and another vehicle I purchased recently,” Chinchilla said during the proceeding.

 

Chinchilla’s home in Posos de Santa Ana is reportedly valued around $560,000, though Chinchilla said she has a mortgage on the home and plans to refinance it in order to pay for her son’s studies at a prestigious university abroad.

 

Chinchilla said her only income is her husband’s pension, which is about $6,000 per month, and that she filed for her own pension on May 8th, which is expected to be about ¢3.3 million (~$6,200) per month once effective.

 

Chinchilla told the court that she is not a millionaire, and her salary as president would not have afforded her the property in question.

 

The former president said that Baldi’s statements were “clearly” malicious “with the sole purpose of defaming my honor.”

 

Chinchilla also said that social networking is not on trial.  “The trial that begins today is not against social networking and social networks, but against those who make malicious use of them.  The internet and social networks should be protected from those who defraud, harass, attack, or slander,” Chinchilla said.

 

For his part, Baldi said corrupt public officials do not put assets in their name, and that they hide money offshore.  “When does a corrupt official put things in their name?  The corrupt put things in the names of nominees and the money is deposited in offshore accounts.  The corrupt are not that stupid.  As the Comptroller General said, the corrupt in this country have become quite sophisticated,” Baldi said, adding that he believes the case and the court have been politicized.

 

“Even the President of the Court is very interested in this case, he even reviewed the case file, this is very serious in the administration of justice and demonstrates the politicization of the court,” Baldi said.

 

Zarela Villanueva, President of the Supreme Court of Justice, denied any interference or involvement in the case.

 

The trial is set to resume today.

 

 

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    • mhogan

      Okay, so she is painting a picture of maliciousness in “defaming [her] honor” and stated that Baldi is calling her “a thief” (as reported above–a very shrewd use of terms to the Court). She has laid out her finances to the court and probably presented proofs for all to see that she has what she claims to have–no more. Two questions: can Baldi prove she is lying to the court (the crime against her, based on her testimony as above presented, would be perjury); and, did he in fact publish “malicious” things about the Lady? In order to prove perjury, he’d have to have documents to back up (prove) his claim. Does he?? If he can prove perjury, she has a problem with that charge (and what may follow only if the Government decides to). Does that release him from defamation — maybe not, since a person’s honor is sacrosanct in Costa Rica (look at the justice system to see that expunging past criminal deeds from a person’s record is provided for so that “honor” remains intact.) This is a very slippery slope for Baldi to take.

      • duke ster

        Very strong points all around being discussed by intelligent people here who understand the Costa Rican court system very well. I hope all of you intelligent people posting here will keep up these interesting discussions and explain these events to us as the trial goes on. A “blow by blow” expose’ will be greatly appreciated by me and I am sure by other readers.

    • Ben

      Big pension compared to the average Costa Rican.

      • Kimo McGowan

        the average costa rica has never been president of costa rica…

        • Ben

          Whats your point?

          • Kimo McGowan

            Sorry, i’ll type slower next time.

    • expatin paradise

      I knew that defamation has also criminal consequences and applied to public figures even in the absence of malice. Apparently, the rules of evidence related to defamation are different here compared to in countries where English law forms the foundation of their systems. In those countries, the complainant would only need to prove that the defendant made statements that were damaging to reputation. Thwe burden of proving that the statements were true would be the defendant’s. The plaintiff would not have to prove her financial situation – the defendant would have to prove his statements. Perhaps Sra. Chinchilla’s testimony was more about PR than her evidentiary burden.

      • mhogan

        In English Common Law, if you can back up (prove) what you say is true, you get off scott free (pretty much). In Napoleonic Code as applied in Costa Rica, even if the facts are true you still can’t throw them in someone’s face to say “nasty” things about them. What the Lady is doing is pre-empting Baldi by putting forth an official, sworn statement of her assets and attempting to show she is a “common” person trying hard to come up with money to finance her son’s education. Remember Hillary Clinton claiming to be “broke” and struggling to pay Chelsea’s education costs? In the Court of Public Opinion, it did not work for Hillary; but then she isn’t in Costa Rica. Costa Rican judges tend to show compassion for the downtrodden lot (even if that person is a former politician). And if being called a “thief” has damaged in any way her potential to augment her pension to pay a mortgage, educate her child, and buy something better than a 1999 vehicle (hazing over “another vehicle I purchased recently”), well those are damages she will claim in a civil case after first winning the criminal one. Doubtful Baldi can use the defense of sophistication of hiding finances of the uber rich and Lady Laura knows this, I suspect.

        • expatin paradise

          Your clarification of Costa Rican law confirms my belief that the ex-president didn’t have to testify as to her finances, that it is the defendant who has to prove his allegations. If Sra Chinchilla’s financial situation is other than she testified to, not only may she lose her lawsuit, but she may also be found guilty of perjury. She is either being truthful or taking a very big chance that the defendant won’t be able to sustain an affirmative defense.

          Many years ago, I had a friend whose father filed a defamation suit against Time Magazine for calling him a “Mafia mouthpiece.” Time’s discovery not only supported an affirmative defense, but also provided the Feds with enough material to prove tax evasion and perjury. I don’t know if my friend’s father ever was readmitted to the Bar Association after serving his time in prison.

          By the way, Hillary’s claims of poverty didn’t play well with the media, but the Clintons were pretty heavily in debt on leaving the White House – I would have been pretty worried if I was in that deep and had a kid who needed to finish school. They dug out pretty quickly when the former president started pulling in hefty speaking fees, and they were never living in real poverty by any stretch of the imagination, but they did feel some financial insecurity, which was probably Hillary’s point.

    • Ken Morris

      This all reminds me of Richard Nixon, and is as pathetic.

      Whenever a politician has to say, “I am not a crook,” they’ve already lost in the court of public opinion, and as others note, this seems the real court Chinchilla is playing to. The case itself turns on the specific allegations, and it wouldn’t matter if Chinchilla were a billionaire whether or not those allegations are true. The poor woman is even dumb in her own defense.

      And BTW, her 1999 car is a Mercedes (I have no idea what brand her new car is), a $145,000 annual pension for a family of three is hardly lean, and her house more than qualifies as a luxury house under the tax code. You have to wonder what planet she’s living on to imagine that a defense based upon her own humble circumstances will fly.

      It’s a sad sputtering end to a disappointing political career–although she may win the actual case and end up more than doubling her humble income this year.

      • SDPUS

        It is hard to believe she attended Georgetown University. Apparently, she missed the concept and meaning of public service. It will be interesting to see how this battle of lawyers plays out. Everyone and at all levels of this case is an abogado. This is where the organized crime syndicate of Costa Corrupcion resides: Lawyers, Politicians, Prosecutors, Judges, OIJ Jefes, Prison Jefes–they all are lawyers. This is a very small country, and these lawyers work on a code of corrupcion, at all levels they are gaming the system. I realize this is often true in most countries, but in CR they arrogantly take it to a new level…it must be a part of the swearing in process here. I commend Mr. Baldi, as he appears to be one of the few lawyers with integrity in this country. He may lose this case in the short, but time will certainly show the truth in regards to her supposed land acquisitions in Guanacaste. I expect this verdict to eventually open up an unexpected can of worms. It is highly unusual for lawyers to “really” be opposing one another here. Typically they play the system and steal in unison…the Judiciary of Costa Rica has institutionalized corruption at all levels, top to bottom. The President of the court inquiring and possibly interferring should be of major concern. This should be the job of DIS. If Costa Rica did not have a tourist based economy, they would be little different than Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala…in fact they may be well on their way, as foreign investment is plundering. Gang raping visiting college students from abroad certainly won’t help either. Universities will not subject their students to uncontrollable crime, and will pull back just as they did in Mexico in the not too distant past. For most visitors being a victim of crime, has just become a matter of time in Costa Rica! That will not keep a prosperous tourism industry. And that is because of leadership like that of Laura Chinchilla. You know the President who was tough on crime. Unfortunately just for crimes committed by poor people who are forced into plea agreements. They may fool some of the people some of the time, but they won’t fool all of the people, all of the time. And that is a real shame, because the majority of Ticos are good caring people. Thes lawyers have no shame!!! And to me, the Colegio de Abogados is the center of the problem. It is their duty to sanction these corrupt lawyers, and obviously, that never happens. When the real estate market plummetted in 2008, many lawyers had to find new ways to swindle.

        • duke ster

          Good point SDPUS, to see another lawyer come out publically AGAINST the ex president who is also a lawyer, is indeed a rare event and Mr. Baldi should be commended publically as you have just done. He is an example of someone from inside the tight knit lawyer group of thieves. taking a big risk with his career and possibly his life by attempting to put a person of her stature and position on a public theater of possible shame. And the fact that he is taking not only Laura on, but actually the whole corrupt abagado system on, is a very very bold move. Especially since these higher ups are all sworn to each other not only in their invisible secret club rules but they(mostly) all belong to the Masons and if you know anything about the Masons, they are sworn to defend another Mason in ALL cases and events–regardless of the nature or severity of their crime or offense. Much like the famous cover up of the”Jack the Ripper” events so many years ago. Since Jack was a member of the elite ruling class at the time. Here we have a rare event unfolding in front of us and it could lead to a very interesting outcome. IF…IF the judge in this case acts in an honest fashion to endeavor to search for the truth. But since he probably is also a member of the Masons- it is doubtful that any further revealing information or outcome should be expected. I wonder why Laura is even at this point of public scrutiny? Perhaps she is being taken to task for some , unknown to us, an event or disobedient act or being punished or warned because of her not following orders or not doing what is expected of her in some situation which will never be revealed to us, the public. This is a rare event indeed as far as I understand, which isn’t that far ha ha. Us little people know very little of the inner workings of politics and of the machine which runs things. Like the citizens who still are so naive’ to actually believe their vote in a presidential election means anything at all. For example,President Obama knew from an early age that he would become president and even those who he told ( very early on) he would become president and didn’t believe him since they knew he wasn’t even an American citizen, went on to see it happen. After all, his name is Barry Soetoro,and he is a muslim from Indonesia. You see a son of a muslim MUST also be a muslim when you live in or are from a muslim country. There is absolutely NO leeway in these matters. Do the research. To Anyone who wants to read my posts, I will , little by little, reveal more incredible truths to you as time goes on. But please… DO THE RESEARCH so you will ( hopefully learn) but so you also will have an intelligent rebuttal of what I reveal if you don’t agree.

      • duke ster

        Well said Ken, well said.